Eduardo Propper de Callejón
Eduardo Propper de Callejón (1895–1972) was a Spanish diplomat who is mainly remembered for having facilitated the escape of thousands of Jews from occupied France during World War II between 1940 and 1944.
Propper de Callejón was First Secretary of the Spanish Embassy in Paris, when France surrendered to Nazi Germany on 20 June 1940. In order to prevent the Wehrmacht from plundering the art collection that his wife's family kept at the Chateau de Royaumont, he declared this castle to be his main residence, so it would be treated in the same privileged way as the accommodation of any other diplomat. Among the art works thus saved are a triptych of Van Eyck (one of Adolf Hitler´s favourite painters).
In July 1940, he issued from the Spanish Consulate in Bordeaux, in co-operation with the Portuguese Consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes, more than 30,000 transit visas to Jews, so that they could cross Spain to reach Portugal. When Spain's Foreign Minister Ramón Serrano Suñer learnt that Propper de Callejón was issuing visas without prior authorization, he had him transferred to the Consulate of Larache in the Spanish protectorate in Morocco. Afterwards, he would be posted to Rabat, Zurich, Washington D.C., Ottawa and Oslo.
Propper de Callejón's father, Max Propper, was a Bohemian Jew; and his mother, Juana Callejón, was a Spanish Catholic. They raised him and his brothers in the Catholic faith. His wife, Hélène Fould-Springer, was a socialite and painter. She was from a notable Jewish French-Austrian banking family, the daughter of Baron Eugène Fould-Springer (a French banker, who was descended from the Ephrussi family and the Fould dynasty) and Marie Cecile von Springer (whose father was Austrian-born industrialist Baron Gustav von Springer, and whose mother was from the de Koenigswarter family). She converted to Catholicism after World War II. Her sister was prominent Paris art patron and philanthropist Liliane de Rothschild (Baroness Élie de Rothschild, 1916–2003). of the prominent Rothschild family (who had also married within the von Springer family in the 19th century).
He never gained public recognition for his heroic acts before his death in 1972 in London.
In 2008, he was officially recognised as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance authority in Israel. This was accomplished by the testimony of Austrian Archduke Otto von Habsburg who had disclosed his knowledge of Propper de Callejón's actions at the Nazi occupation of France during an interview with Felix Pfeifle for the film Felix Austria (2012).
While this was a step in the right direction, it obscured the fact that he was a Patrilineal Jew who risked his life with the knowledge that he may have well ended up being kidnapped by the Nazis, taken from France, and held and murdered in one of the many death camps across Europe.
- A tribute to Eduardo Propper de Callejón by the International Raoul Wallenberg Found in New York
- Jenni Frazer. "How Helena’s grandfather was finally recognised as a true hero" The Jewish Chronicle 8 February 2008, narrating how Eduardo Propper de Callejón was recognized as "Righteous Among Nations" recently. Retrieved 28 February 2008.